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Anything for a Weird Life

I Hear Vinyl is Making a Comeback

I first heard the above statement in the early 1990s. Even Kramer and Newman got in on it. I was scouring the bins myself, as vinyl was the cheapest way to get the most music.

By the middle to late 1990s, I was driving record store clerks a little crazy with my Tuesday phone calls to guarantee that they not only had the new release I wanted, but that they had it on vinyl.

What was my problem? No one wanted it on vinyl! Buy this album on CD like a middle to late 1990s normal person!

Of course, by the middle to late 2000s, I was selling these records for much more than what I bought them for. Why was I selling? I always want to use the money I have to get the most music I can.

To me, caring about format is like caring about how the art is delivered to the museum. I just want the art. Sure, format impacts delivery, but that is a whole nother neck of the record nerd” woods. Ask Fabio about that.

Today, if there was a phone number to call, I would be inquiring to see if they had it on compact disc (cheapest format with the highest sound quality at present). And they would be wondering why I do not want to buy it on vinyl… you know, like an early 2020s normal person?

The stats are in, and they are showing the following:

  • Vinyl sales have grown for the 17th consecutive year
  • LPs accounted for 43 percent of album sales in the United States last year

And that is great news for my friends who run or work at Baltimore-area record stores, which I patronize regularly. Please do this also, as each serves as a vital hub for a favorite activity of mine.

However, the stat that interests me is this one:

  • only 50 percent of buyers actually have a record player

I first encountered this reality selling copies of my friend’s band’s seven inch single at the cafeteria table in high school. I was a senior. Underclassmen were buying the record from me.

One jeered another You don’t even have a record player!”

He still bought the record, sheepishly explaining that he was going to get a player real soon.

I think what he wanted was to be down with the sickness, so to speak.

Yes, I buy records to listen to them. But music is culture. Albums are art objects as well as a music delivery system. Certain artists are pushing up vinyl sales, making up the majority of the growth. And that growth is stalling.

Years from now, when I am still going through the used record bins now clogged with Billie, Adele, and Taylor’s releases, I will recall this era with mixed emotions.

And someone will once again pass on something to me that they think I may want to know.

I hear vinyl is making a comeback.”

Tim Kabara

IG: @kim_tabara

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